Windy City? More Like Dancing City!
The eighth annual Chicago Dancing Festival will welcome choreographer Kyle Abraham as this year’s commissioned artist. Abraham, who directs Abraham.In.Motion and has created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and New York City Ballet principal Wendy Whelan, will set a new piece on Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Festival co-founders Jay Franke (a Chicago-based dancer) and choreographer Lar Lubovitch (a Chicago native) originally decided to commission a new work from a non-Chicago choreographer every year as a way of giving back to local companies. “We really wanted the festival to live beyond just the four-day event that we plan,” Franke says. “We thought that by involving local companies, we’d be giving them an opportunity to work with a new artist, expand their repertory and bring it out on the road.”
The festival, August 20–23, also draws high-caliber dance companies from all over the U.S.—with debuts this year from Stars of American Ballet, Rennie Harris Puremovement and Pam Tanowitz Dance—to perform in Chicago’s premier indoor and outdoor venues, like the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park and the Museum of Contemporary Art. And every performance is free, in keeping with Franke’s goal to cultivate a new audience for dance in the city. “We thought that by offering a free public performance in a public space, we could invite people who aren’t typically exposed to dance,” says Franke. “Art belongs to everyone. We want everyone to feel like they’re invited to the party.”
Photos from top: by Costas; by Todd Rosenberg, both courtesy of Chicago Dancing Festival